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Ask SCORE: Choosing the right name for your business
Ask SCORE

Ask SCORE: Choosing the right name for your business

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QUESTION: I am having some difficulty choosing the right name for my new business. Can you provide some direction, and how I can determine if the name is already in use?

ANSWER: In William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet,” he asks, “What’s in a name?” His answer, “That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

While Shakespeare obviously did not attach much importance to a name, the same cannot be said for your business.

It never ceases to amaze me the name some businesses choose for their company. ABC Services Inc. tells me nothing about the company or what it does. However, ABC Lawn & Garden Services does.

Once you decide on a name, be sure to check with your state registry to determine if the name, or one similar to it, is already in use.

Depending on your plans for the business, you also may want to do a search through the Trademark Electronic Search System from the U.S. Patent & Trademark office. An attorney who understands intellectual property can help you do a proper search.

We are living in a digital age. When searching for a particular product or service, most shoppers turn to the internet. In order for you to show up on the first page of the internet browser, you must develop and optimize your website through the use of certain keywords that will direct traffic to your site. You should start with the name of your company.

You can begin with a one-page website and scale it as you grow.

Easy do-it-yourself tools allow business owners to create their own, and most service providers offer bundled services with everything you may need to build and maintain your website (for instance, domain name, web hosting or design templates).

Many businesses that offer professional services find that, generally, all they need is a one- to four-page website that includes general information, contact information, product/service information, social media icons and links, and customer testimonies.

You can start building your brand with your domain name right away.

Add it to social media platforms that your customers frequent and online directories where your business is listed. That way, no matter where your customers find you online, you can always drive them back to your website.

Likewise, include your name and web address on your business cards, ads, email signatures, uniforms, brochures, newsletters and other collateral you give to customers. This is a great way to promote your brand offline and gives potential customers an easy way to learn more about, and connect with, your business online.

Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Richmond Chapter of SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business. To ask a question or request free and confidential business counseling, go to Richmond.score.org/mentors. Learn more about SCORE’s workshops on the website or by calling (804) 350-3569.

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